Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are

This weekend I finally came out to my parents.

As anyone remotely close to me could attest to, coming out to them is an issue that I've really been struggling with.
I'm still processing and so are they.

My parents would never disown me or stop loving me because of who I am, but they are both from very traditional, conservative backgrounds and I don't think they've knowingly had anyone queer on their radar before. (Except for my mother's brother, who was gay. He died of HIV/AIDS in the 90s and most of the family never accepted him. [my mom did])

My parents were the last to know, which really irritated my mom. Apparently she felt like I felt I couldn't tell her anything. As I tried to explain to her, I've always known my parents wouldn't have some horribly negative reaction. But I know from living it that this part of my identity will make my life significantly more difficult, and I know that's the last thing any parent wants for their kid. The delay in my coming out to them came from the fact that I didn't want to disappoint them, among other things. It's hard to tell the people that I love and that love me that I'm going to face more discrimination, hatred, oppression, and potentially violence because of the way I was born. (Especially when those people are Sicilians who immigrated to the US and faced discrimination, hatred, oppression, and potentially violence.) 

The reality is once I come out to anyone, my parents included, my relationship with them will never be the same again. It may be better, it may be worse, it may just be different; but they will always have that lens affecting the way they view me and interact with me. I'm always aware of that fact, but most of the time it doesn't affect me. I have lost friends when I've come out to them. It sucks, but ultimately, it's their problem, not mine. I'm not going to be ashamed because of other people's bigotry. I'm happy to talk to them, inform them, even accept some level of prejudice if it comes down to it. (I have friends that feel that "they should have the same rights and everything, but they shouldn't call it marriage." I'm not thrilled, but I can deal with that level of prejudice.) 
But it's different when it's my family. Because they might not disown me, but our dynamic will be forever changed. And that's a little scary. 

Ultimately, the fact that I hate not being totally honest with my parents and the fact that I felt like I was keeping it from them pushed me to come out to them. That, and my most recent tattoo:



....which, as one might imagine, my parents were less than thrilled about. [My mother is half blind, but I get a new tattoo and she suddenly turns into Eagle Eye....]


The actual coming out was less difficult than I anticipated. I didn't so much come out to my crazy Italian mother as she ambushed me and dragged me out. I had just arrived and we were eating dinner and she just asked me, "Why do you hang out with that queer club so much? Are you queer?" (She was referring to the queer club on campus, called Queer Alliance.) She got me with the lasagna. (I was planning on coming out anyway, but leave it to my mother to be that impatient.) She said she had a feeling and of course, I'm no different now than I was before, etc. Then she spent the next few hours on and off trying to wrap her head around the concept of bisexuality (apparently she just can't get past monosexuality) and, much to my amusement, trying to figure out "how women do it.... BUT I DON'T WANT TO KNOW!" She just kept having these random outbursts while we were watching Jeopardy! It took a lot of self control not to outwardly laugh at her. 
Coming out to my dad the next morning was short and sweet. He said he also had a feeling, and that I'm still his daughter and he still loves me and it's who I am, etc. Then he dropped this little gem: "It bothers me more that you're a liberal." Um.... okay? Thanks?
[side note: I'm not a liberal per se. I'm more left-leaning, but I don't really fit the conventional political spectrum this country uses. I'm more of a, "fuck all y'all and your bullshit politics." That's just my incredibly conservative father's overreaction to anyone that isn't anti-Obama because of taxes.]

And even though they're crazy, it feels good to be able to be fully honest with my parents. To not have to hide part of myself or talk around it. A weird tension I hadn't really noticed was there dissolved when I came out to them. We have a long way to go (like my mother's aversion to masculine lesbians and same-sex PDA and my dad's belief that "they should have all of the same rights they just shouldn't call it marriage), but at least we're on our way.

And here's a fitting music video to send you on your way:



1 comment:

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